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Jimbo/The Education of Uncle Paul
Jimbo/The Education of Uncle Paul
by Algernon Blackwood
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars This collection of two of the best fantasy stories is well worth the money, 21 Feb. 2015
This collection of two of the best fantasy stories is well worth the money. Blackwood was a gifted writer whose prose merged fantasy with vision which blurs the boundaries between dream and reality. Best known for his amazing tales of the supernatural, the writer had a mystic bent which pervades so many of his novels and these two hover between children's stories and works which only a grown-up can fully appreciate. A darkness pervades Jimbo, imprisoned in the House and flying too close to the sea, while Uncle Paul is entranced and captivated by the almost unworldly child Nixie, seeking lost memories through the Crack between yesterday and tomorrow. They are both a delight to read and deceptively beautiful.


The Devil Rides Out [DVD] [1968]
The Devil Rides Out [DVD] [1968]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The reason this movie is so good is the excellent script by Richard Matheson who sticks ..., 21 Feb. 2015
In 1968 Satanism was a prickly subject so it took some daring for Hammer to bring The Devil Rides Out to the big screen. The reason this movie is so good is the excellent script by Richard Matheson who sticks rigidly to Wheatley's book, stiff upper lip and all, allowing the plot to excite and thrill as it leads to a thrilling climax. The let-downs - as agreed by everyone - are the dreadful special effects which are so central to the theme and are laughable. Lee excels as the Duc de Richlieu - perhaps one of the best performances of his career - and Gray revels in the part of master satanist Mocata. The music score also jars and is intrusive. Despite the misgivings over the giant spider, the Goat of Mendes and the reverse play of the angel of death, I'd give this four stars for the effort alone. It's a pity Hammer messed up To The Devil A Daughter so badly, leading to the premature demise of other Wheatley interpretations.


Gangsters - Complete Series [DVD]
Gangsters - Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Maurice Colbourne

4.0 out of 5 stars ultra-violent for its day having a sharp tight script and wonderful cliffhangers ('to be continued, 21 Feb. 2015
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Gangsters was a revelation back in the era it was made but now creaks with age and the low budget shows through. Series One was magnificent, ultra-violent for its day having a sharp tight script and wonderful cliffhangers ('to be continued...') with the lead character mean lean and slightly wooden. Nice to see Paul Barber as a baddie, too. But the spit and grit of the first season evaporates as the second becomes self-indulgent and loses its grip; the WD Fields character (played by the writer and so called because it pleases the only person that matters - 'me') has you looking for Batman to appear and save the day. At times it is innovative but the surrealism clashes harshly with the theme which was better served by the lurking menace of the earlier series. The throwaway ending fits with the sense of the final episodes as reality is discarded and the programme jars to an unsatisfactory end. Gangsters is by no means faultless but the highs make it a piece of vintage TV which I'd still recommend to anyone and has strokes of genius which never fail to shine through. A flawed masterpiece.


Curry And Chips - The Complete Series [DVD] [1969]
Curry And Chips - The Complete Series [DVD] [1969]
Dvd ~ Spike Milligan
Price: £6.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars but a painful turkey which should never have seen the light of ..., 20 Feb. 2015
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When Johnny Speight wielded his scalpel in Till Death Us Do Part he did so with a precision which had Mrs Whitehouse reeling in her curlers. Curry And Chips promised much but failed to deliver on all counts. Whereas Warren Mitchell embraced the part of Alf Garnett, who was totally believable as the cockney loudmouth, Spike never delivers as the Irish-Pakistani proponent perhaps because the incredibly weak script sags and creaks throughout the series. Even the two geniuses Sykes and Spike give the impression that they can't be bothered and at times even call themselves by their real names instead of those of the characters. The series was extremely disappointing as it promised so much and is an unfortunate legacy from a clever writer. It does not surprise me that the series soon fizzled out and I keep it simply as a nostalgic keepsake of yesteryear's TV. Not a cutting-edge non-PC criticism of the times, but a painful turkey which should never have seen the light of day. Sad.


Eliphas Levi : Rénovateur de l'occultisme en France (1810-1875)
Eliphas Levi : Rénovateur de l'occultisme en France (1810-1875)
by Paul Chacornac
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars But he didn't always have it good - a pupil at a Christian seminary, 31 Dec. 2014
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Levi was a magus whose theories changed the world of occultists and his writings turned him into an overnight celebrity. But he didn't always have it good - a pupil at a Christian seminary, he was made deacon then ducked out of taken his final vows following a scandal in the sanctuary. He spent much time fighting for the starving people - for which he was jailed twice - and married a younger woman who left him broken and in despair. Through the Qabala he forced his magical theories and his artistic bent gave rise to many famous drawings, none more than Baphomet (he was also a painter who was commissioned several times to furnish religious works in churches and convents). But to understand his life you need to read an authorative biography as to date there is only one - that of Paul Chacornac. With correspondence and material at his disposal which no-one will rediscover, no book will better this one for information on his life. Marred by a sense of hero-worship and a deadpan style, this is nevertheless THE book on Levi. NB the text is in French.


True Detective - Season 1 [DVD] [2014]
True Detective - Season 1 [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Woody Harrelson
Price: £14.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The odd couple format has never been better exploited than in this tight sinewy drama, 31 Dec. 2014
The odd couple format has never been better exploited than in this tight sinewy drama; Marty Hart, the lawman whose life is led by duty and his penis and Rust Cohle, whose damaged pessimistic take on society grew from disillusionment after the death of his daughter and years of undercover narcotic work which left him damaged and misanthropic. Having left the force, both are brought back to be interviewed as a ceremonial murder with occult undertones returns to haunt them both. Matthew McConaughty plays the laconic semi-alcoholic with passion and dignity while Woody Harrelson plods on his dogged way with a look of perpetual bemusement. The American Dream fades from the screen as unspeakable atrocities are carried out in the steamy alien backwaters of the bayous and wastelands of Louisiana, itself scarred by the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Relying on a sharply-honed deductive power and a stubbornness which never lets him go, Cohle discovers that the solution of the 1995 case is still tied up in mystery and soon he unravels horrific secrets which lead him even to the most unexpected of suspects. The reunited partnership must venture forward and rebuild their broken relationship to pit forces against a wave of atrocious crime which is insidiously growing in the heart of Louisiana. The dialogue is sharp and brooding, the action thought-provoking and the climax building in suspense until the final denouement. This is TV at its best.


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [DVD] [2015]
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Martin Freeman
Offered by Direct Entertainment Supplies
Price: £9.80

11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars While they are some intelligent lead-ins to the Lord of the Rings – the ..., 30 Dec. 2014
Jackson meets Tolkien in this final instalment of the Hobbit trilogy – but it is the merest handshake. This Battle of the Five Armies follows – roughly – the storyline of the original but it is padded out with invented characters and scenes which only go to prove that The Hobbit could – and should – have been filmed in a single movie. This much is self-evident from the comparative size of the book, if for no other reason. While they are some intelligent lead-ins to the Lord of the Rings – the appearance of the Ringwraiths, the suggestion of one Aragorn etc – the finale (as in The Desolation of Smaug) is overlong and the continual duels and battles become tiresome – you can only absorb so much at a time – and I thought Thorin’s final confrontation would never end. The odd love interest between ‘Tauriel’ and Kili continues and Legolas, who is not a character in the book, takes a leading role – along with an unlikeable Thranduil. Jackson resurrects Blanchett ,Lee and Weaving for a fun piece of nonsense and I would forgive that as it’s always good to see these mighty actors again. Admittedly while purists will cringe, others will moan that the movie is separate from the book, in which case why the ingenious nod to Tolkien anoraks by including a delightful scene where Bilbo snatches back his spoons from Lobelia Sackville-Baggins? The ending links well with the Fellowship of the Ring and to his credit, Freeman has grown into the part and in the final part has morphed into a credible Bilbo. And McKellen is, as usual, superb. To sum up, if you loved the first two episodes you’ll adore this, but if you hated them then this will not convert you. Well, Mr Jackson, what next? The Farmer Giles of Ham Trilogy? Let us just pray he never turns the pages of the Silmarillion.


So, Anyway...: The Autobiography
So, Anyway...: The Autobiography
by John Cleese
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part One, 27 Dec. 2014
I usually look at autobiographies by celebrities with the same disdain as singers who insist they are artists and non-entities who elbow their way onto the screen after an excruciatingly irritating appearance on some `reality' TV programme. While gifted writers struggle to publication - and some ungifted ones make it anyhow - many celebrities churn out a `book' as an ego-pleaser, relying (always successfully) on their on-screen popularity to ensure sales. This is why I never buy them, although `So Anyway...' arrived in my Christmas stocking. And being a lifelong admirer of Cleese's work, I read it.
Predictably enough, the book ends in media res and curries favour for its sequel. Its starts well enough with interlaced memories (his telling of his first childhood encounter with a rabbit had me laughing uncontrollably). The style and construction fall into a more or less linear life story and there are shiploads of anecdotes to keep the most ardent fan of British comedy happy as well as intuitive insights into comedy writing. Anyone with a slight knowledge of Cleese will expect a generous dollop of psychology and if this is your bag you will not be disappointed. I often found this idée fixe intrusive yet at the same time illuminating while not always agreeing with his conclusions. It is probably not an accident that the book begins with him being jeered at as a schoolboy and the bulk of his comedy seems to me to be a kind of self-immolation as if through laughter he can lay the ghosts which haunted him since childhood. The loneliness of his early years leads to a lifetime of trying to `fit in' - I suspect this is still true - and what appears to be a hunt for approbation and affection, for which we may reasonably look to his relationship with his parents. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his first fumblings with the opposite sex and you cannot escape the feeling that throughout his life he felt an uncomfortable anxiety around women, although he fails to tell us how his adolescent fears or hopes affected him at the time. It is an interesting omission as he is quite comfortable when describing - quite honestly - his deepest anxieties throughout the rest of his life. Even basic Freudian theory could not miss the connection between the dominant mother-figure and his need for strident, opinionated women and this search for the ethereal may well explain his sad string of broken marriages. Additionally, there is a strong link between his conception of `Englishness' and his definitive (although he would argue) middle class background and his rather sheltered experiences at Cambridge.
This is not meant as a criticism, although there are other passages which I found worrisome. It would appear than Cleese rarely took criticism well and reacted badly to a personal affront and this comes out forcibly in his reaction to an event which `changed his perspective on the world'. What was this cataclysmic event? He was not made school prefect by his housemaster, Billy Williams, who is described as a `joyless dwarf' and a `dour, grim little gnome'. When the O2 reunion got good reviews, the Daily Mail panned it and Cleese cannot help reminding readers that it was once a `pro-Nazi' paper. These occasional flashes of the scalpel do not fit well in what is essentially a fun-to-read, enjoyable book even if they are meant as satirical.
And in the end, the book is enjoyable. There are enough belly-laughs for those looking for Cleese the clown and enough thoughtful opinions to make you stop and think occasionally. For fans of the Monty Python team and the post-war comedy boom, there are plenty of stories and usually affectionate memories or criticisms. If I were a big fish, I might be doomed to the fate of Ingrams, who after criticising Fawlty Towers was put in an episode as a man blowing up a sex doll - luckily, I am not near his radar. Besides, I do like your book, Mr Cleese and - yes, doubtless - I shall buy your follow-up.


Hurry Home, Candy (Lions)
Hurry Home, Candy (Lions)
by Meindert DeJong
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Only a child's heart and a kind captain's understanding can soothe the dog's need for affection and after several disasters he m, 24 Sept. 2014
I read this as a young child and it had a deep effect on me, one which was to remain with me for life. Undeservedly unknown, de Jong was a master of the children's story and his simple, descriptive style evokes such vivid pictures that they bring the tragedy, anguish and need of the little dog so alive that they tear at the heartstrings. The young animal's instincts and needs clash with total misunderstanding and an incapacity to empathise by humans, who, exasperated by his behaviour, drive him away with cries and the dreaded 'broom'. Only a child's heart and a kind captain's understanding can soothe the dog's need for affection and after several disasters he must conquer his own fears if he is to reach happiness. An outstanding novel.


Carry On - The Ultimate Collection [DVD]
Carry On - The Ultimate Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kenneth Williams
Offered by TastyMate
Price: £47.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ' The best of some of the corniest and - at least ..., 18 Aug. 2014
'Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!' The best of some of the corniest and - at least today - less than side-splitting one-liners from the Carry On canon which make you laugh despite yourself. Many Carry On fans bemoan the fact the the latest offering is still in limbo but, seriously, do we really want it? The charm of the series is the fact that it is trapped time-bubble around the sixties and smiles come from the almost naive nudge-nudge-wink-wink seaside postcard humour which were a product of times gone by. Norman Hudis was the scriptmaster for the first set of movies and he had an innocent gentleness which pervades each movie, starting with Sergeant, when the excellent William Hartnell gave such a good performance that ex-military men asked him how long he had spent in the Army! The gang soon gathered over the next few movies, Sid James taking over from Ted Ray in Carry On Constable from which time he became a regular fixture and Babs Windsor appearing as the sex interest in Carry On Spying. Talbot Rothwell brought in the well-recognised sexual innuendo, which he continued in Up Pompeii, whose star Frankie Howerd make a couple of welcome appearances in the Carry Ons. The hey-day came with the costume dramas and for me Cowboy is still my favourite, with Sid James pulling off an amazingly good American accent while Kenneth Williams opted for an outrageous over-the-top accent which was no less funny for all that. Behind the scenes all was not so well - Kenneth Williams did not like Sid much, especially after he complained about the drag scenes ('and he MEANT it!!' Williams exclaimed). Jim Dale was not invited back for many years after he refused Tarzan in Jungle and eventually the OTT gay Charles Hawtrey had to be dropped due to his alcoholism. Things nosedived for the Carry Ons towards the end; Dave Freeman wrote one outstanding script but the drive to modernise took the charm from the movies; to keep up with the times boobs were bared in one movie while Emmannuelle took the permissive society beyond What The Butler Saw titillation. This 'Ultimate Collection' does not include Columbus and while fans might wish a complete set, Columbus failed on all levels, drafting in newcoming alternative comics to flesh out the roles, which only went to prove you cannot meddle with a winning formula. Never again will TV see such a collection of larger-than-life characters who command the screen and force mediocre scripts to succeed by sheer willpower. A whiff of comedy nostalgia, addictive and seductive.


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